If you live in an apartment in Roanoke, VA you can easily go camping this weekend. Or, if you have out-of-town guests, they can head to….downtown Roanoke to camp. All around the country more and more people are taking advantage of a phenomenon called, "Urban Camping" where you take in a much different environment than your traditional fire pit and swimming hole type of campground.
This weekend, you can find an official "urban campground" right in the heart of downtown Roanoke as this summer will be a trial run for the company looking to add just a little more "cool" factor to an increasingly vibrant downtown scene.
On weekdays, the city parking lot right off Interstate 581 fills part of the parking needs of the downtown worker. Come this weekend, a new business will turn it into an urban campground, ready to host up to 50 RVs and campers with premium access to all that downtown Roanoke has to offer.
"You got this beautiful star up there. You've got this wonderful amphitheater down here," said Urban Camping partner, Jay Foster.
This year Urban Camping is focusing on four main events with hopes more dates will follow.
"So you get all the pleasures of being at a big festival but you are right downtown so you can walk down to one of the restaurants downtown, go to a bar, meet some people, come back to the camper that night. Maybe play some music with friends and have a good time," said Foster.
While there is quite a bit of optimism from the company there is a little downside including the fact that several dozen parking spaces for a very strategic location will be gone on some very big event days; parking spots gone but not lost as they just change camping spots. The lot has more than 120 spaces with 50 currently leased by VDOT for the nearby Elm Avenue exchange project. The rest will become a weekend campground.
More importantly the company hopes the campground will just add to the city's growing diversity.
"The amenities we have in Roanoke with all the great mountains and rivers and things you can do... urban camping is just another thing you can put in the mix," said Foster.
The inaugural camp out will coincide with this weekend Foot Leveler's's Blue Ridge Marathon plus the Down-by-Downtown music festival. Other dates coincide with Festival in the Park, MicroFestivus and the Oak Barrel Blues Festival. RVs are $50 and campers are $40 for the weekend.
Campers can arrive at 5 p.m. Friday.